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The Blessing of Rest


Perhaps you are familiar with the old saying, "Let sleeping dogs lie."

We had our own version of that when we were rearing our children: "Don't mess with happy babies."

But back to the sleeping dogs. A sleeping dog once awakened just might bite and make you wish you had left him well enough alone.

Sleep is a valuable thing in many circumstances. The psalmist had some wisdom to share about it in Psalm 127:2. He wrote, "It is vain (it is empty, useless and a waste of time, energy and effort) for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so He gives His beloved sleep."

God gives sleep to the ones He loves. He gives us rest.

This is true on a gritty practical everyday level. And, it's true in the highest spiritual and transcendent sense. Hebrews 4:9 reads, "There remains therefore a rest to the people of God." Faith in Christ is quite literally resting in Him.

But back to the more mundane side of our Christian walk.

Earlier this week one of my Facebook friends posted these words:

"We NEED to stop glamorizing overworking. Please.

The absence of sleep, good diet, exercise, relaxation, and time with friends and family isn't something to be applauded.

Too many people wear their burnout as a badge of honour.

And it needs to change."

Truer words are rarely spoken.

Thankfully, I had some wise and godly voices early on in my life who trumpeted the truth of God's place for rest in our lives. Personally, I'm bent to an extreme in the direction of industriousness. But, even that statement is likely impossible to make without sinful pride entering into the tempting folds of my wayward mind.

We image that since sluggardliness and laziness are distinct evils, then the extreme opposite must therefore be holy. This isn't true. Both extremes are visceral vices. The moderation and balance to which God calls us is rarely experienced. If we don't stand firmly in one error, then we vacillate from one error to the other. But there is a plan of peace; a place of comfort and rest; a place where we find the restoration and refreshment that we so desperately need and crave. Rather than describe it in my own words, allow me to share the lyrics to an old hymn.

There is a place of quiet rest,

near to the heart of God,

a place where sin cannot molest,

near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet,

near to the heart of God,

a place where we our Savior meet,

near to the heart of God.

There is a place of full release,

near to the heart of God,

a place where all is joy and peace,

near to the heart of God.

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,

sent from the heart of God,

hold us, who wait before thee,

near to the heart of God.

(Near to the Heart of God, by Cleland Boyd McAfee)

So, I rest each night peacefully (for the most part), knowing that my life is in the hands of the only One wise enough or strong enough to keep things in order.

I rest one day a week (on Mondays) with full confidence that the gift of rest for 1 out of every 7 days is both a test of my faith and a blessing aimed at me by my Maker.

There are other times for rest, of course: holidays, vacations, when we are ill (like I am today), etc. And, there are times when rest is NOT proper. I fail there too. Sometimes I rest when there is work to do and I'm the one who is supposed to be doing it. That's not ok.


I wrote all that to lead up to this. This blog is an outlet for me 10 months out of the year. November and December quickly fill up with additional responsibilities and opportunities that make the schedule look strained pretty quickly. So, I'm assuming if my life looks like that at the end of each year, your's probably does too. If you don't really have time to read and I don't really have time to write, then a break makes sense.

Look at your schedule in this season too. What do you need to cut out to make room for other good things? Make the needed adjustments.

Unless you have the opposite problem. Ezekiel 16:49 is for the disciple who struggles instead with the dainties of the worldly distractions of entertainment and amusement: "Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

An abundance of idleness is not the same as rest. You've probably heard it this way: the idle mind is the devil's workshop.

So, let's all take our medicine whichever prescription we need individually. For some, the diagnosis is spiritual fatigue, and the solution is a pillow for our head. For others, the diagnosis is spiritual fat, and the solution is "a short hoe and a long row" (i.e., a good day's work).

And now from me: Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! And, Happy New Year!

God willing, we'll pick up here again in January, 2023.

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